Tash Aw at The Paris Review:
Anocha Suwichakornpong’s second feature-length film, By the Time it Gets Dark, is ostensibly a story about the brutal crackdown on student demonstrators at Thammasat University in Bangkok in 1976—the year of the filmmaker’s birth, forty years before the film was released—but its unpredictable, twisting narrative doubles back on itself in such strange ways that it becomes an interrogation of collective memory, a questioning of the role of history in contemporary Southeast Asia. The premise appears simple: two women arrive at an isolated house in the countryside, relieved to be there yet not entirely at ease with each other as they admire the spectacular views of the dry northern landscape. They have the clothes and demeanor of Bangkok dwellers, and we soon learn that they are there to tell the story of the Thammasat University killings. Taew, the older woman, was a leading figure in the student protests of the time, and has since become a celebrated writer. Ann, the younger, is a filmmaker, and spends the following days organizing oddly formal interviews with Taew, recorded on her camera, trying to piece together enough information to write a screenplay for a film based on the killings.